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How Does Geography and Climate Affect Clothing?

D. Gray Warrior

How does climate and geography affect what people wear and what materials they have available?

What would people wear in the mountains, does a tropical environment necessarily lead to tribes with less covered than those in a temperate, hot, or cold climate?

What materials would be available in the mountains and in the desert?


Needs additional pylons information. But to answer the specific question: "does a tropical environment necessarily lead to tribes with less covered than those in a temperate, hot, or cold climate?"

No. Not necessarily. If you live in a semi-arid tropical region with little vegetation, you may want to be completely covered because the tropical sun is hot and it burns.


I would say yes. Climate affects clothing. Cold weather equals more clothing, or at least thicker clothing.

It also tends to dictate what sort of animals/crops you can use. Goats are probably more common in warm climates than sheep. Cotton grows better in warm climates than flax does, at least I believe so.

I would think tropical tribes would wear next to nothing, at least while at home. While tribes in colder climates might don fur-lined cloaks and boots treated with seal fat.

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Mostly what affects what people wear is what kind of people you're asking about.

Are these people human or something else? And what might that something else be? In The World for example, Daine are pretty cold hardy. They wear little more than a few bangles, some fetching body paint and perhaps a sarong-like garment around the waist. Their feet have tough soles and their feathers are pretty water resistant, so they don't mind weather and climate too much. Socially and culturally there are broadly speaking no tabus against nudity, so people might be clothed or nude or somewhere in between depending on mood or tasks & chores being done.

If we stick with humans, they can thrive in many environments pretty much naked. Environments as varied as Amazonia and Tierra del Fuego sport(ed) human people in pretty much their pristine, uncovered state.

Beyond that, I'd bet environment, protection and culture are the three biggest culprits of causing fashion. Just because you're ordinarily naked doesn't mean you always want to be soaked by rain, so you invent broad peaked caps, parapluies and capes. You don't your feet and hands to get cut up during agricultural work, so you invent shoes and gloves. You want to protect sensitive parts of your body, so you invent the loincloth. Girls with big chests get tired of lugging a pair of bouncing melons around, so they invent strophia. Sooner or later some cultured chap decides that berry juice stains can be applied decoratively and thus invents the sarong.
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toujours gai, archie
It's certainly worth wondering if climate affects what dwarves, elves, orcs, etc. wear differently than it does humans.

K.S. Crooks

The purpose of clothing is to help maintain body temperature, water level and other homeostasis conditions. Climate and geography are the factors that determine the type of clothes needed and available. The average seasonal temperature, the amount of sunlight and precipitation dictate that amount of covering required. These factors also determine the types of plants and animals an area can support. Excluding synthetic materials, the type of clothing a person can make is reliant in the plants and animals found in their area. Trade routes would expand the resources available and create greater options. For a particular region you need to know/decide what the climate and geography are like and what species live in the area.


It's certainly worth wondering if climate affects what dwarves, elves, orcs, etc. wear differently than it does humans.


I think those races would also affected by the climate they are in, only, it might appear more in their own fashion sense.

In writing my own tale, I do confess, I think often of things like...wouldn't this armor get ruined with rust, or wouldn't these clothes wear out and get holes. In one part of my story, which is based on naked amazon cultures, I do wonder at how they managed there with so little protection, when there are so many things, like snakes, that would kill them. I figure the materials are not sufficient to make wearing more possible.

It does not really come up in story, and in much media characters kind of wear the same thing all the way through, but I don't think things would last.

If a character goes through different regions, having the learn how to manage the clothes available should be good stage action. if they are wearing the wrong clothes, or wearing them wrong, they would kind of stand out.

GRRM seemed to care about fashion, but I barely mention it. Maybe I should add a scene about it.


Considering I made it my goal to pull stuff from MMO's and JRPG's it's pretty much necessary that my guys are capable of wearing wildly impractical clothing in any climate. As a result it's not hard for mages to get to the point where they'd be just fine butt naked in a blizzard and it's generally more efficient to work on improving your defensive magic than in investing in better armor. As a result, the primary concern is clothing that improves the flow of whatever magic the mage specializes in, and hey, sometimes that means a metal bikini.

Of course that only applies to mages and not civilians.